(a note from Beth: we’re finally someplace with decent internet and it is so much easier to add pictures and post – so we’re doing some catching up)
We departed Pensacola yesterday, and headed over to the Wharf Marina in Orange Beach, Alabama yesterday. For various reasons, all of them good, it was time to get out of Florida and see some new to us sites. The trip was all done with the diesel pusher, and took about 4 hours.
For those of you not familiar with college football, Bear Bryant, a legendary college football coach, coached here for many, many years, and is one of the most respected college football coaches ever, and he ruled the Crimson Tide (That’s the University of Alabama football team for all y’all who aren’t sports fans).
There wasn’t an abundance of traffic on the Gulf side of the ICW, and we cruised along at a nice leisurely 6 to 6.5 knots, our 100 hp turbo yanmar barely breaking a sweat at 2300 rpms. Our raymarine chartplotter chip ran out of close in information just past the Florida-Alabama border, and we navigated with our I-Pad until Keith, the former owner returned my phone call about chart chips and told me to just back out to about the 3 mile point on the screen, and I would have chart information on the screen. Not as intensive as having a chart chip for Alabama, but sufficient to allow me to relax somewhat.
At times on this trip, there was only just over 3 feet of water under the keel, which makes me very nervous. That makes for a little better than 9 feet of water, but with a 6 foot draft….I get just a wee bit edgy. The center of the marked channel is the obvious choice for transit, and moving over when meeting traffic allows me to do so. It should be interesting for us in the Bahamas, as there will be a constant 1 or 2 feet of water under the keel for extended periods of travel….oh boy! Definitely not the north channel.
We passed under two bridges, both with a height of 73 feet. Our boat has a mast height of 65 feet plus instruments, so going under the bridges also had me a bit nervous. But, no issues at all, and we carried on as if we are normal. The houses along the ICW are incredible, as are the various yachts that we met, all BIG! Our 47 foot sailboat felt like a dinky toy when meeting some of those yachts. The ICW twists and turns along this stretch, and is just gorgeous, and very well marked. We finally met some dolphins just before Orange Beach, they are always such a treat to see. You should google Orange Beach, it is an amazing area, white sand beaches, beautiful hotels and an awesome vacation area.
The Wharf marina is a very nice marina facility, and Beverly and Ryan made us feel right at home when checking in. Ryan helped us into our slip, provided us with some great info and insights to the area. Beth was very pleased with our docking procedure, smooth as silk and totally uneventful. I’ll take the time today in the 75 degree sunshine to wash the boat down and remove the salt. Each docking procedure is making it easier to dock successfully, thank goodness. She is a big girl, and just a wee bit different to dock than Kewalo. This marina caters to “loopers”, and when you tell the staff that you are a looper, dock fees are significantly cheaper. I told Beverly that we were “loopy”, and that got us the reduced rate. So, with the 11% tax that is charged here in Alabama for hotel rooms, docks etc., our total dock fees for two weeks is $525. Not bad at all, much cheaper than a hotel room. By the way, if you can stay here for 6 months, the 11% tax fee is removed……hmmm, 6 x 30 or 31…nope, no can do. The customs and border folks wouldn’t like that…….Floating docks, laundry facilities, loopers all over, even from Canada….nice place to stay for awhile.
Tony from Coastal Canvas is going to bring our car over for us one day this week, good thing, as the closest grocery store is 3.4 miles away. A bit of a hike when hauling groceries on foot. There are quite a few nice restaurants very close by, and one of them, Ginny Lane offers a lunch special, good to 6 p.m., that comes with a free martini! YES! We will come to know this place very well methinks<grin> There is a ferris wheel just across the street, and all kinds of attractions on the wharf here in Orange Beach.
Sunday afternoon we sailed with Keith and Linda, the former owners. Their in depth knowledge of the waters around Pensacola, and their vast sailing abilities are remarkable. Linda is an avid racer, and delivers sailboats, while Keith no longer races but truly enjoys sailing. His ability to trim the sails was something to watch and learn from, his skills obvious to my constant observations. It is awesome to watch a truly skilled and experienced sailor trim a boat. We arrived back at Palafox in the dark, and I was able to dock our boat in backwards on the second attempt with some help from the crew.
In closing, a Hinckley 46 with a beautiful dark blue hull, gold trim, and woodwork that gleamed, was at Palafox. I had noticed a different wake when he arrived, and in talking with the owner, from Traverse City, Michigan, discovered that he had jet drives. Big, strong, Hamilton jet drives. He claimed that the drives gave him about a 10% better fuel economy, and made the boat as easy to handle as a jet ski, and only a 2.5 foot draft. I have no idea what it was worth…..but scary would be a good term. Awesome motor yacht! Should have grabbed a couple of pics in hindsight.
So, Orange Beach, here we are!
Keep you stick on the ice.